Many customers of fast food hamburger chains such as Krystal's or White Castle may already be familiar with the concept of mini hamburgers, otherwise known as sliders. Mini hamburgers served in those establishments contain thin patties of ground beef, grilled along with reconstituted or fresh onions and served on a small steamed bun. The condiments on a traditional mini hamburger or slider are often limited to mustard and a single pickle slice.
In recent years, many bars and casual dining restaurants have capitalized on the popularity and convenience of these original mini hamburgers. Instead of emulating the steamed bun and thin beef patty recipe, however, many restaurants create scaled-down versions of their traditional hamburgers, some of which may weigh a third of a pound or more. Mini hamburgers are prepared much like their full-sized counterparts, with the miniaturized meat patty pressed out and fried on a grill.
Because these mini hamburgers are not made to standard scale, cooks may have to find acceptable substitutes for standard hamburger buns. Some opt to slice standard buns into smaller sections, while other use small dinner rolls or sectioned flat breads for their mini hamburgers. If a suitable bun is not readily available, specialized buns could be created from scratch using a standard bread dough.
A kitchen gadget growing in popularity among mini hamburger enthusiasts is a mini hamburger or slider press. This device contains five round rings, which fit snugly into a pan containing five grooved cups. The user portions raw ground meat into each cup and then presses down with the matching rings and cover. The heat from a stove top element cooks the burgers from the bottom, and the residual heat in the chambers cooks the meat from above. There is no need to flip mini hamburgers prepared in a slider press.
Mini hamburgers can be dressed with traditional condiments such as pickles, onions, lettuce and sliced tomatoes, or they can be dressed to fit an overall culinary theme. Asian-style burgers could be dressed with teriyaki sauce and pineapple slices, for example, or Tex-Mex mini hamburgers could have sliced peppers and a barbecue sauce added to them. Many restaurants offer the same upgrades for mini hamburgers as they do for full-sized hamburgers, such as thick bacon slices or bleu cheese.
A mini hamburger does not have to be made from ground beef, however, nor does it have to be prepared on a grill. Some restaurants offer smaller hamburgers made from ground pork, turkey, bison or chicken. There are also recipes for creating a vegetarian mini hamburger, and some recipes call for a baked portion of meatloaf instead of a grilled hamburger patty. It is not unusual for an upscale casual restaurant to offer a variety of mini hamburger plates, each containing three or four smaller versions of their oversized standard fare.